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Flattering Fashions: Looking Your Best At Any Size And Shape

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

You’ve spent countless hours and dollars at the gym and on (trying) to eat right and “still” you’re figure’s not flawless. Well girl, welcome to the real world. Even some of the most envied bodies have imperfections.

No way! Well, not only is it possible, the concept of “flawed” femme fatals is quite common, with some of the runways best recently revealing their dimples cheeks and we don’t mean those on their face. It’s among Hollywood’s best kept secrets, secrets most keep well under wraps. After all what’s on the inside can often seem more appealing if packaged properly.

Women (like their male counterparts) have the ability to be alluring no matter what their size and shape (that’s not to discourage any of you ladies from eating well, exercising, and counting your calories), it’s simply a matter of knowing or learning to work with what you’ve got…and that firstly begins with your attitude and perception about you.

Once you’ve got your positive attitude, it’s time to focus on and accentuate your other positives and deflect attention from your (perceived) negatives.

Optimally you want to look uniform from top to bottom, so your figure looks symmetrical and balanced and not like a combination of “mismatched” features. According to industry experts, the eye veers toward areas with distinctive breaks, especially those in proportion and balance. So, it should be no surprise that if you’re a bit of a hippy chick and your jacket rests where your hips are widest, then it will only accentuate their size. The idea is to have it fall just above or below your “problem” area to draw attention to a more “flattering” spot.

Simple Tricks For A Quick Fix:

Besides clothes that enhance all the wrong areas, clothes that are ill fitting or disproportionate to your body can also draw attention in a negative way. Petite women should generally avoid “extra baggage” such as big, bulky, sweaters and droopy pants, while curvaceous ladies should refrain from too tight anything, especially if it makes you look like you can’t breath.

Opt for overall balance. Make sure all the pieces coordinate (even if that means trying on a few different combinations to ensure the best overall look). Remember, that any part of the ensemble that doesn’t belong will only serve to destroy any look you are trying to create. It’s best not to wear thick sweaters with light, airy skirts or pants, chunky boots with loose linen trousers, or clunky clogs (meant for pants and certain pants at that) with skirts and dresses.

Remember dressing well doesn’t mean wearing the most expensive (out of sequence) combinations. Nor does it mean simply masking your flaws, it means doing it creatively and “stylishly” while also enhancing your (favorite) attributes.
Simple gestures, such as choosing the right neckline (creating a long neckline makes your whole body look slimmer), or untucking a blouse may be all need to create a more elegant silhouette and elongate your midsection.

While most women are savvy to the fact that black is minimizing and slimming, they are notorious for ignoring other important rules of style. Black is definitely beautiful, but only if the color and cut you choose looks good on YOU.

Areas To Be Aware Of And Beware Of:

1. Blaze Brassiere: What you wear under your clothes can be just as important as the clothes you wear. Panty lines are a major fashion faux pas (despite the latest attempt by some to establish peek-a-boo briefs and thongs as a style…poor taste and lack of sophistication is NEVER a style). Bras that are too tight or too lose also can be anything but uplifting to your wardrobe. Shirts will never look right if your bra doesn’t fit right. You may also want to beware of the sexy, lacy little numbers, or painfully padded pushups that may attract more attention than you want or need. Experts suggest having an expert taking your measurements, sizing you, and investing in a few quality bras in basic colors (black, white, beige)

2. Neck in Neck: As we previously mentioned, necklines are extremely important your appearance. Necklines too close to the neck can make your entire upper half look stocky. If you don’t know what looks good on you, experiment, experiment, experiment…but start with the basics: V-necks and turtlenecks tend to flatter most people.

3. Bad News Belts: Belts are a great way to boost you look a few notches, but like most accessories, if they don’t match what your wearing you may want to stick to the concept of “less is more”. If you’re bulging around a belt, try one that’s thinner or a bigger size. If you have a short waist, steer clear of wide belts altogether.

4. Shoe Sense: Shoes can either make or break a look, and the wrong shoe can leave you feeling like a heel (sorry couldn’t resist). As a general rule, walk away from super chunky, clunky shoes. You may also want to stay away from shoes that are too skimpy, especially if you’re sporting a skirt. Styles featuring ankle straps should be worn with extreme caution, they tend to make most gams looks gianormous.

5. Lengthy Issues: Pants can either add height or make you look short and dumpy….and if the latter is the look you want, then by all means wear pants that are too short for you; especially if you’re notorious for pairing boots or heels with pants that don’t have the length necessary to cover them. If you are wearing a shoe with height, it’s imperative that the pant leg hits the bottom of the heel, almost to the floor. For pants that are ankle length or shorter, seek out something with a slightly flared leg to pair with ballet flats, loafers or boots that extend higher up on your leg.

Hue Wear It Well:

The colors you choose (and wear) can make all the difference in how you look to yourself and others. Here are some of fashions bare essentials:

1. Pick A Color And Stick With It: Unless you’re naturally tall and thin and want to add a bit of bulk to your bod, going monochromatic is your best bet. Fashion experts point out that wearing one color from top to bottom creates the illusion of length and slenderness….with one clean, unbroken line. You may also want to keep it natural and neutral. Think black, camel, cream, dark brown, blue, off white, you get the picture (but stay away from head to toe combinations of reds, pinks, etc).

2. Size Up Your Selections: While you don’t want anything too skin tight, you also don’t want anything too loose, big, baggy or bulky (and yes, that means getting rid of those “comfortable” sweat shirts and fuzzy pajama-bottom-like pants). Trying to hide your flaw with either too small or oversized clothes only accentuates your imperfection. Buy clothes that fit (comfortably) and that flatter YOUR figure, and individual sense of style.

3. Avoid Fabric Fiascos: While I frequently pride myself on being “THE” bargain babe, it’s also important to remember that you often get what you pay for, so, it’s best to know what you are looking for (and what looks best) in style and quality. Fabrics should gracefully glide over and hug your curves, and “squeeze” them. Brittle fabrics can create lumps and bumps, while sheer, clingy fabrics, such as Lycra or spandex, can cling and show off a bit too much. Instead, choose materials that drape, fall, and flow in a flattering way.

4. Fancy Pants: Pants are comfortable, professional, elegant, sexy, warm, and versatile (at least when it comes to moving around and sitting). In fact, most women (these days) may prefer pants to skirts and dresses, at least for work and play). For the most flattering fit, consider flat (rather than pleated) front pants, (gathered waits only enhance protruding pouches), with a low waist (about an inch or so below your waist) and a slight flare at the bottom (and not tight around the ankle), in order to balance out the width of your hips.

5. Get A Leg Up On Looking Sensational In A Skirt: A-line skirts tend to flatter almost any figure, and are ideal for “hiding” big bottoms and flabby tummies. Unless you’ve got great gams, keep it knee length to make legs look their leanest and best.

From Basic To Business:

Tops: V-necks and long-sleeved turtlenecks usually help enhance any figure due to their vertical lines known for drawing the eye up…and that mean your torso looks longer and leaner.

Suits: Definition is key. Think power not over-power. Small (enhancing) shoulder pads are fine, but large, bulky ones that make you look like a football player are NOT. A waist that is delicately tapered adds feminine curves. Belts are also great accessories; and pants that are fitted in the hip area and have a slight flair are generally (professionally) ideal.

Foundations To Build On: Foundations should create a smooth line, not several obvious ones. Consider soft, silky bras that won’t allow shirts to cling. Choose panties (and hose) without seems that won’t be noticeable under pants and (tight) skirts.

Sizeable Statements: Accessories can help you make a statement, but in order for them to be effective (in getting your message across) they must be in proportion to your overall look. Too much or too little of a good thing can compromise your entire ensemble and image. Your purse, jewelry, shoes, etc, should all fuse nice with the rest of your attire, including color, texture, and proportion to your body size.

Outside Assistance: While you may find pants that flatter your figure but they are too long, or a jacket that fits you everywhere but the arms, finding the “Perfect” fit in your size and style may be difficult. Don’t compromise (on a different style, fit or size) but instead get comfortable with knowing what works (and looks best) and don’t be afraid to get some professional help to help you look your best. Tailors and seamsters, say experts, are crucial to a classic wardrobe, especially if you’re unable to do the work yourself. And they advise ALWAYS achieve your most polished look via the basic staples such as a great jacket or classic dark wool pants or business suit. They note, these pieces will be in style for years and you’ll get the most use out of them.

Fashions Strategies For Every Figure:

Oh Pear! Just because you’re pear shaped, (smaller on top and bigger on the bottom) doesn’t mean you can’t be oh, sooooo sexy. (Let’s fact it ladies, JLO gave new appreciation and meaning to baby’s got back).

The trick is to hide the significant difference between your bottom and top, and this can be especially challenging if you are narrow on top but also well endowed. The trick in both cases (since legs, butts, and busts ALL have very blatant sexual connotations) is figuring out a way to make your figure look feminine and not faulty or “foul”.


· Boot-Leg Slacks: Pants that are wider toward the bottom and offer a delicate flair are effective for minimizing hips.

· Hipbone-Length Tops And Jackets: Keeping the hemline by your hipbone visually splits your body at a point lower than your waist, making your rear look smaller.

· A-Line Skirts: The wide hem is ideal for minimizing hips. Make sure the top of the skirt hugs enough to not make you look like you’re wearing a potato sack.

· Shoulder Pads: The objective is to define by redefining what’s elegant, feminine, and acceptable. Thin, meticulously molded pads inside a tailored jacket can effectively balance your look; anything big and bulky just makes you look like a linebacker.

· Horizontal Neck Lines: Gives your shoulders a wider look and is a great way of effectively, visually enhancing your top. Think boat neck or square neck shirts and sweaters.

· Padded Bras: Who couldn’t use a little help from their friends. If you are small busted, consider (without going “over-the-top) adding some feminine curves (to balance out your bottom) with some subtle padding.

· Two-Toned Swim Suits: To draw attention away from your bottom, you need to draw attention to your top, or draw the eye up. Consider a two-piece number with a pattern on top and a darker, solid color on the bottom.


Tapered “Trousers”: Pants that hug at the calf or ankle only accentuate your hips and rear.

Bold Statements: Big (in your face) bold prints and colors (especially lighter, louder colors and prints), especially in more “clingy” fabrics will attract attention where you least want it to, (the widest part of your body).

Above The Belt: High waited pants cover more of your behind, making it look larger. Consider instead slightly low-rise pants (about two-inches below your belly-button), to help minimize your rear load.

Elongated, Straight Jackets: Avoid clothes that are loose around the waist and hug your rear. Select instead a jacket or coat with a waist-defining belt, or an angled cut. Avoid jackets that end at your waist or at the widest part of your hips.

Petite Picks: Little ladies can be just as lovely as their long and lanky counterparts. Keep in mind that petite refers to height and not weight or size. You can be tall and thin (not considered “petite”, at least not in frame). Start by perusing the racks of stores specializing in sizes and styles for more “miniature” misses.

Your main objective is to “look” longer and leaner, which means choosing pieces that elongate your entire frame. Stick to monochromatic “themes” that will visually lengthen your look.


· Long Pants And “High” Heels: Shorter women simply look better in heels. Wardrobe staples should include (at least) one pair of fitted pants with a hem that almost graced the ground when you wear heels. By camouflaging where your shoes begin and legs end, you create an illusion of being taller and having fabulously long legs.

· Calf-Length Skirt (minimum knee-length skirt) And High Boots: Applies the same concept of long pants and heels and keeping it monochromatic. Lines are “longer”, especially if your boots match your skirt (in color), and you appear taller and leaner.

· Vertical Lines: Again, you’ll want to draw attention upwards, so you give a “taller” appearance. Stock up on shirts, blouses, sweaters with a vertical element. Subtle stripes, a jacket with a zip-front, even a long scarf (hanging around your neck or alongside the jacket’s lapels) can effortlessly create this effect.

· Shorter Coats: Unless it’s a dress coat (for special occasions), you should focus on wearing jackets and coats that fall just below the hips. Shorter coats and jackets will reveal your legs and achieve a more uniform look and greater balance.


· Extravagant Patterns: Big bold patterns and prints will only make you look smaller. Instead opt for smaller prints and graphics and (if you can) limit them to your top (rather than your bottom), to draw attention upwards.

· Horizontal Elements: Keep away from patters that attract attention to the hem of your clothes (i.e. cuffs on pants, ruffles on skirts, etc.) The effect is uneven and makes you look smaller than you are.

· Too High Heels: Heels up to three or four inches are fine, but anything higher than that is simply “unflattering”. It makes your legs look out of proportion and it’s also not very classy.

· Top Heavy: It’s easy for little gals to get LOST in big, bulky sweaters and tops. Consider instead more fitted styles in the right size.

· Long, Ankle-Length Skirts: The longer the garment, the shorter YOU”LL look. If you are going to wear a floor length gown, make sure you wear high heels to give your added height, but your best bet is to shorten skirts to reveal a bit of leg (or boot) for a long, lean, uniform look.

· Double-Trouble: The same rule that applies to men, applies to you. Shorter gals should avoid double-breasted jackets; they only make your look, square, squat, and bulky.

Boy Oh Boy! Gals without curves may do great on the runways (and in the dressing room since most styles were created for you), but you may not fare so well in “reality”. Let’s face it men LIKE curves… and they like women who’ve got them. While most will appreciate you fair frame, your biggest “downfall” is lack of a defined middle. In fact, you are trying to create what most of us are trying to hide.


Wrap It Up: Wrap tops are ideal for creating a more curvaceous frame. The V-necks enhances your upper body and the waist tie attracts attention to your meager middle.

Get It Straight: For YOU, straight-leg pants are a blessing rather than a bane. The lean line accentuated your long, lean legs.

Slim Suits: Consider combining a fitted jacket with a snug skirt or pair of pants. Make sure the jacket has a defined waist to enhance your middle and give you more shape.

Two-Piece Swim Suits: From tankinis to string bikinis you’ve got the beach bod to show off. While your feminine curves may get lost in a one-piece, a two-piece will add some definition.


· Box Cuts: Refrain from boxy, unstructured coats or double-breasted jackets. Square lines will only serve to overwhelm your “frail” frame. Choose coats or jackets with belts or accentuated waistlines.

· Straight Shift Dresses: Dresses that hang down form shoulders to knees (with no angles) can contribute to you looking rectangular. Consider instead dresses that are tapered at the waist.

· Nix The Spandex: While your legs will look great is tight pants, your rear view needs to be enhanced; spandex will only make it appear flatter. Your best choice; “good ole’ jeans”.

Your Time Has Come: Girls with hourglass shaped figures have curves all over. Unlike their pear shaped sisters, these gals have plentiful busts to match their bountiful bottoms. Frequently they are less narrow from the waist up and are rounded everywhere except the waist. The key here is to enhance your endowed areas (especially your top) without overpowering the rest of you.


Smooth Moves: You’ll want clothes that hug your shape and curves but without adding any unwanted or unnecessary dimensions. Foundations are fundamental. Sweaters should lie flat and avoid shirts and blouses with breast pockets.

Belted and Shaped Jackets: Avoid anything that hangs straight down and can accentuate your midsection. Define your waist with belts and shaped jackets to subtly highlight your curves.

Arm Yourself With Shapely Sleeves: Avoid sleeveless cuts that can draw attention to bulky arms. Downplay thick arms with three-quarter-length sleeves that hide the hefty top part of your arm but reveal your slim, feminine wrist. Fluted sleeves (wider at the end) do for your arms what wide leg pants do for thick legs; they make the top part look leaner in comparison to the flare.

Vertical Necklines: Hiding your neckline behind fabric makes you look heavier. Break up your proportions by wearing V-neck shirts and tops or by unbuttoning the top two buttons on blouses. Both draw attention to your face and away from your chest.

Two-Piece Swimsuits: One-piece suits could make you look boxier and larger than you are. Consider a two-piece (such as an athletic racerback) that will flatter your figure and give you needed coverage and support.


High-Neck, Sleeveless Tops: Generously gifted gals look even bigger in sleeveless turtlenecks. Your best bet, avoid them all together.

Notorious Knits: Bulky, textured sweaters add volume to your voluptuous features. That’s the last place you want to draw extra attention.

Bulky Bracelets: Because your wrists are likely the slimmest part of your arm you should be more inclined to reveal them, then hide them behind garish accessories. Adding accessories to your wrists also adds “bulk” and makes your whole arm look larger. Try delicate bangles or thin stands of beads instead.

To A T- (shirt): Oversized t-shirts don’t cover up your “excesses” but the hanging, shapeless top makes you look large and sloppy. Consider instead shirts that gracefully contour your curves.

Snug As A Bug In A Rug: Too tight tops are just as unflattering as baggy ones. They will do little more for your figure than put your breasts on full display and downplay your other assets.

Full-Figured Femme Fatals: Plus size women are slowly but surely becoming fashion divas in their own right. With more selections and style savvy, these curvaceous ladies are making quite the fashion statement. However, many still think that a larger frame means larger (often unflattering) clothes. A better option is clothes that compliment your curves without hugging too tightly or feeling skin tight.


· Consider It A Wrap: Wrap dresses can be figure flattering as they allow you to adjust the top half and the waist to fit and compliment your curves.

· Be Soft: Choose soft fabrics that gently drape over your body. Stiff materials will gather and create unnatural and unflattering lines

· Va-Va Voom: V-neck tops allow you to show off your cleavage. Try a partially unbuttoned blouse with a delicately turned up collar for a similar effect at the office.


· Strappy Shoes: Shoes with ankle straps cut across you ankle and make your legs look thick. Consider wedge heels instead.

· Huge Sweaters: The larger and bulkier the sweater, the bigger and bulkier you’ll look. The worst offenders are those with wide ribbing in the middle or by the hips breaking up uniformity and your overall line.

· Slim Slacks: Pants that are tapered at the ankle accentuate your hips. Try instead pants that fall straight from the hip and have a delicate flair.

· Getting Busy: Busy tops (garish garments, bold prints, embroidery, ruffles, etc) only add mass.

· Petite Purses: Big gals with small bags will simply look disproportionate. Carry a bag that’s large enough to flatter your full-figure.

· Big Black Swimsuits: While black is often minimizing, wearing a monochromatic one-piece simply accentuates the solid mass of color. Instead choose suits with subtle patterns or two-piece tankinis.

Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > Flattering Fashions: Looking Your Best At Any Size And Shape

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